Italian Navy amphibious ship ITS San Giusto took over as flagship of the EU NAVFOR operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea relieving auxiliary ship ITS Etna.
Etna left the mission after almost two months of operations fighting human trafficking and smuggling networks. During her time deployed to the mission, Etna also hosted the Italian prime minister and the defense minister for a visit on board on December 24, 2017.
The new flagship, San Giusto, is joining the mission for a second time, having previously deployed to the mission from April 4 to August 31, 2017.
Italian Navy ships are assuming flagship roles after Italy took over command of the operation Sophia task force from the Spanish Navy in December 2017.
On the occasion, Italian Navy Rear Admiral Giuseppe Berutti Bergotto replaced Spanish Navy Rear Admiral Javier Moreno as the new deputy force commander.
Operation Sophia was launched on June 22, 2015 with the core task to contribute to wider EU efforts to disrupt the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean.
From October 2016 EUNAVFOR Med operation Sophia has also been carrying out two additional tasks: the training of the Libyan Navy and Libyan Navy Coast Guard and the implementation of the arms embargo off the coast of Libya.